If you’ve ever been trying to Google for a news story on Breitbart, but all you can find is CNN stories, you’re not alone, and it’s not an accident.
With the Global Warming debate heating up once again, allegations of “Fake News” being hurled in every direction, and, of course, those pesky Russians, who even knows what’s real anymore. We’ve seen plenty of publicity about organizations policing what content users have access to, like with Facebook’s efforts to combat fake news. Naturally, the question of who could possibly have the authority to decide what is “truth” is difficult to answer, but, fortunately, Google seems to have joined Zuckerberg in his cries of, “Pick me! Pick me!”
WattsUpWithThat.com (WUWT) – a site operated by an eco-friendly climate change skeptic with a background in meteorology and weather technology – published an analysis from Leo Goldstein last week that analyzed and quantified the Google search bias long believed to be actively used against sites promoting non-preferred opinions. The pro-liberal bias in search results has long been assumed, though I’m unaware of any detailed analysis quantifying it prior to this, and the results, while based on limited, imperfect data, are hard to deny.
Without getting into the nuts and bolts of the methodology, leveraging the free data available on the web ranking site, Alexa, Goldstein establishes a metric, “Net traffic”, which represents only results of non-targeted searches on topics, such as climate change. Data of users searching for a topic, plus any site name are omitted, and the resulting Net traffic is representative of Google’s intent for presenting “options” for users on a given subject.
Analyzing specifically climate debate searches and sites, Goldstein’s metrics show an undeniable discrepancy in his search metrics for “Climate Alarmist” sites over “Climate Realist” domains. The author notes that this sort of analysis isn’t meaningful on an individual basis, so the aggregates Goldstein presents are a compelling point in the search favorability of broadly “climate change” and “climate skeptic” sites.
The topic of the climate is an extreme example of a more broadly applicable pro-liberal bias in search results. A briefer analysis of general bias in results looks at several of the most popular liberal media outlets, as well as a number of conservative outlets, with similarly blatant results, though broadly speaking, the impact against general conservative views is less pronounced than in specific topics.
Nonetheless, based on Goldstein’s data analysis, there is significant bias against conservative sites in Google searches, concluding:
On average, the conservative domains have almost two times lower PGSTN than the left/liberal ones: conservative 15.5% (standard deviation 5.1%) vs. left/liberal 27.4% (standard deviation 4.9%). Hypothesis of Google Search left/liberal bias is confirmed with a confidence of 95%.
Feature Image via WUWT